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GP Week : Issue 185
21 GPWEEK.com // 21 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: The new suzuki went well at post- Catalunya tests. Very well, in fact. Half- a-second off the top three, with rider Randy de Puniet improving on his own qualifying time, set two days before on a CRT Aprilia. He placed eighth out of 19; ahead of two of the Ducatis and very competitive for a first showing ... even if he would have been 10th had three more Hondas been present. On the same day, Suzuki announced a year’s postponement to their projected 2014 return. They needed the extra time, said a team man, to achieve the fuel consumption goal, and adapt their preferred software (currently still unfashionable Mitsubishi) to the Dorna-supplied Magneti-Marelli hardware. They didn’t even mention engine life: just five for the season ... and little hope of a repeat of the special Suzuki concession of 2010, that allowed them nine rather than six engines because they hadn’t won a dry-weather GP for so long. Fuel consumption is possibly the most crucial: at present MotoGP prototypes get 21 litres, CRT bikes 24. Next year, the prototypes get only 20. It’s a difficult target, when you’re also trying to extract maximum power, not to mention reduce engine braking, which as a result for the need for economy can no longer be done by raising the idle speed. In a way, all this is an anathema to racing. GPs are turned into economy runs. It’s a rod for the engineers’ backs. The manufacturers brought it on themselves, however: agreeing to these limits on (entirely spurious) cost-cutting grounds. The real reason for Honda and the others signing up to this strict discipline was two-fold: first it is an interesting engineering challenge with potentially wider benefits; secondly because this fact gave leverage in the boardroom to keep the racing budget coming. Considering all this puts the Suzuki’s first showing in a different light. It was up against bikes in race trim – 21-litres in the tank, five engines for the year. Each of these measures (as Race Director Mike Webb is delighted to explain) act as indirect rev limiters. Until we know how much fuel the Suzuki was burning, what service life they are getting out of their engines, and indeed how much the bike weighed, the comparison in lap times is thoroughly undermined. It’s impressive that the bike is as fast as it is ... but then Suzuki does know a bit about building motorbikes that perform well. Until it comes to the track in full combat condition, however, we shan’t really know if it is good enough, in an arena where the margins between success and disaster are very small – ask anyone at Ducati. Sadly, we’re going to have to wait almost two years to find out. suzuKI sETs sAIL AT ITs OWN PACE OPINION OPINION MICHAEL SCOTT MotoGP Editor